The Texas Drug Utilization Board, which determines which medicines will be preferred by Medicaid in the state, will require all witnesses who testify about the efficacy and safety of a drug to disclose both in writing and orally if they have “directly or indirectly received payments or gifts” from a pharmaceutical company, according to an email from Texas Health and Human Services Commission spokeswoman cited by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) and NPR. The NPR story says witnesses will be required to specify which pharma firms they have received payments from.
A joint CPI/NPR investigation from this past July, Medicaid, Under the Influence, outlined how pharma works to get its drugs on states’ “preferred drug lists.” Drugs on these lists require less paperwork from physicians for approval, and thus are prescribed more often.
The report describes how a psychiatrist “praised injectable mental health drugs” at a Texas Drug Utilization Board meeting, but “did not disclose the more than $181,000 their makers…paid him to speak about them over the past two years.” It says at that same meeting, 12 witnesses pushed for “brand-name antipsychotic drugs, especially the expensive ones.” Five of the witnesses worked for drug companies, according to CPI, at least four “had ties to drugmakers despite claiming to represent themselves,” and another “represented a patient advocacy group that gets significant funding from drugmakers.”
According to NPR, the committee will also require committee members to “abstain from votes that present possible conflicts of interest, complete training on state transparency laws and regularly sign an acknowledgment of the agency’s ethics policy.”